Sage Therapeutics  (SAGE) - Get Report has laid off just more than half its staff as the once fast-growing biotech seeks to shore up its balance sheet amid new challenges posed by the coronavirus.

The Cambridge-based drug development company said it will dole out pink slips to 340 employees, or 53% of its staff, while also slashing external expenses.

Sage said it expects to save $170 million a year through the moves, with $150 million attributed to the reduction in SG&A costs, or selling, general and administrative costs.

The company said the cuts were mainly focused on Sage's new Zulresso treatment for new mothers experiencing postpartum depression, which can be challenging for hospitals to administer as they grapple with a rising tide of coronavirus cases.

Shares of Sage rose 4.36% to $30.30 a share on Wednesday amid the broader market rally.

"The headwinds we are facing individually and collectively, along with our recognition of our need to move forward as a company, have led to this difficult decision," said Dr. Jeff Jonas, CEO of Sage, in a press statement.

Approved for sale last year, Zulresso must be given to patients intravenously in a hospital or healthcare setting over a period of 60 hours. As hospitals scramble to free all available beds for an influx of coronavirus patients, headwinds for sales of Zulresso have been created, the company's chief business officer noted on a conference call Tuesday, according to BioPharma Dive.

Sage said it will continue now focus on supporting Zulresso treatments in hospitals and other locations where the drug is currently being administered.